Wave of attacks in Iraqi capital kills at least 35

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BAGHDAD — A wave of bombings hit mainly Shiite commercial areas in and outside Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 35 people, Iraqi officials said.

The attacks, many of which were car bombs, were part of a surge in violence that has rocked Iraq over the past months as insurgents seek to thwart the Shiite-led government's efforts to stabilize the country.

Five of Wednesday's blasts were parked car bombs while at least three were remotely detonated bombs, police officials said.

The deadliest attack was a bomb hidden inside a cafe in Baghdad's southwestern neighborhood of Bayaa, which killed six and wounded 16 others, a police officer and a medical official said.

In the central Sadria neighborhood, a parked car bomb went off at an outdoor market, killing five shoppers and wounding 15, officials said.

Other attacks took place in Hurriyah, Shaab, Tobchi, Karrada, Azamiyah and Amil neighborhoods, as well as in the western suburb of Abu Ghraib. And in the eastern Baladiyat neighborhood, an employee of the Electricity Ministry was killed by a bomb that was attached to his car.

The explosion in Karrada sent a towering plume of thick black smoke over the city. Security forces sealed off the area where at least four cars were damaged by the blast and firefighters struggled to extinguish the fire. Four civilians were killed and 14 wounded in that explosion.

Outside the capital, two commuters were killed and nine wounded when a bomb attached to their minibus went off in the southern city of Najaf, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to media.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but suicide and large-scale bombings -- especially against security forces or crowded markets -- are a favorite tactic of al-Qaida's local branch and Sunni insurgents.

The surge of attacks followed a deadly security raid on a Sunni protest camp in the country's north in April. Since then, more than 5,500 people have been killed in attacks by insurgents in Iraq, according to the United Nations.

Wednesday's attacks bring the death toll across the country this month to 244, according to an Associated Press count.